New Series-A Few of My Favorite Things – Bookplates


Important evidence for the provenance of books are small decorative labels pasted on the inside front cover of a book that typically bear a name, motto, coat-of-arms or any motif that relates to the owner of the book. Bookplate collecting began in the 19th century and most collections were built through the exchange of duplicate pieces.


Bookplates started as simple inscriptions in the Middle Ages, but by the Edwardian era  evolved into elegant engravings and etchings known as ex-libris (‘from the books of…’). Having written about the Bloomsbury group in one way or another in earlier posts, I am not surprised that famous artists such as William Hogarth and members of the Bloomsbury group all designed bookplates for themselves and others. For more, check out The Bloomsbury Artists: Prints and Book Designs


Designed by William Fleming

I can’t resist bookplates that have garden themes. I imagine Miss Margaret April, kneeling in her garden weeding…the opening lines of Greening of a Heart inspired by such a person. “In the Cotswold village of Burford, Hannah Winchester pulled the oxalis that had sprung up throughout the garden’s herbaceous borders. The previous night’s rain allowed her to tease the roots effortlessly from the wet soil, the knew of her work trousers already soaked and black.”

c76a81915d27b12bc9c299e5d8a6fab5Ex libris. Artist Josep Triadó for Joseph Casas (1905)

 Visit my Pinterest board – Bookplates  for more examples

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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9 Responses to New Series-A Few of My Favorite Things – Bookplates

  1. Harliqueen says:

    I love bookplates, and I have to admit being an avid reader of eBooks, I do miss out on them!

    • This is one of the reasons I love Pinterest, which allows me to have a lovely collection of bookplates.I read MANY of my books on my Kindle. I have run out of shelf space in the ‘cottage for two.’ Of course, I have to buy a book that I can’t resist now and then. One day when your queue is empty, please download Greening of a Heart and read it. I think you would enjoy it and it would make me smile.

  2. Deborah says:

    What a delightful post. I haven’t thought about bookplates in ages. I’ll investigate. 🙂

  3. I haven’t thought of bookplates in years, so this was a lovely reminder. My father has bookplates in all of his books. How long have you been collecting and where do you go to find them?

  4. I wonder how mine should look like….

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